GDC Fellow

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Michael Maynard, FGDC

Michael Maynard was born 1951, in Southampton England. In 1956 his father, Stanley Maynard, immigrated to Canada to work as a designer on the Avro Arrow, the supersonic jet fighter designed and built in Toronto. Following cancellation of the project three years later (by the Diefenbaker government), the family traveled extensively as Stanley followed work in the international aerospace industry. As a result Michael attended schools in such disparate locales as Hollywood, California, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Sarisbury Green, Hampshire (UK) and Andover, Massachusetts.

His formal design training began with foundation studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, followed by a four-year design program at the Boston Museum School, where he earned a studio Diploma (1971). Concurrently he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Tufts University.

He began his design career with WCVB-TV in Boston, working as art director of news graphics. In 1975 he moved back to Canada to work as a designer at TVOntario, where his projects earned several international design awards. Two years later he accepted a position on the faculty of Georgian College, in Barrie. He quickly recognized a passion for teaching, and over a 13-year tenure he redesigned the graphic design curriculum, raised academic standards, established innovative co-op programs, and tutored students to top standings in provincial and national design competitions.

By 1989 he was ready for new challenges and he opened a Toronto design office, producing corporate communications projects for the public and private sectors. His most extensive work was a comprehensive visual identity program for Spieth Anderson International, the Canada’s leading manufacturer of gymnastic equipment. His work with the company spanned ten years, including a new brand identity with applications to product, building, vehicle and even aircraft signage, and extensive corporate and sales literature.

In the mid-nineties he returned to school to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree at York University, with the intention of retuning to full-time teaching. In fact while still a grad student he was invited to join the graphic design faculty at Sheridan College. In 1997 he was appointed Academic Chair of the design department at Toronto’s George Brown College, with a mandate to reposition the School of Graphic Communications as one of Canada’s top design schools. He undertook the assignment with customary enthusiasm, leading faculty in the creation of a powerful and inclusive vision statement, designing new curriculum, raising academic and administrative standards, hiring new instructors, and establishing closer links with industry. Reflecting the successful transformation process, the department was designated a Centre of Excellence in 2001, and Michael was named founding Director.

Michael was first introduced to the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada in the early eighties when he first attended Toronto Chapter meetings. It was here that he met Tiit Telmet, who encouraged him to become more involved in the organization. He did, and it was the beginning of a career commitment to the GDC and a lasting friendship with Tiit. Michael found in Tiit a kindred spirit, a designer with a commitment to improving the standards of Canadian design practice and design education.

Within a year he was elected Chair of the Chapter’s Education committee. He initiated an annual student awards program, the Ontario Student Graphic Design Awards (OSGDA), involving all segments of the design community including students, teachers, design professionals, typographers, film houses and printers—and its annual awards shows featured international guest speakers. The OSGDA ran for ten years and winning posters (including two by Michael’s Georgian College students) and catalogues of top entries were printed and distributed throughout the Ontario educational and design communities.

He went on to serve as Vice-President and President of the Ontario Chapter, initiating and organizing a regular series of lectures, workshops and conferences featuring high-profile designers. On behalf of Canadian design education he organized the publication of an award-winning booklet featuring a comprehensive listing of design schools, with full-colour examples of graphic design from GDC members. After a term as Vice-President of the National Council, in 1990 he was elected President. His personal objective was to raise the external profile of the organization, improve internal communications and establish better administrative systems. So from his Toronto design office he published a regular newsletter, The National, which featured design news and GDC information as well as critical essays and reviews. It was distributed to a national audience of GDC members, government officials and business leaders. To promote the GDC National Council he traveled to every Chapter from Halifax to Vancouver, talking with members and the local design community, and soliciting feedback on the organization. In the last year of his term he raised government funds to sponsor a facilitated organizational review of the GDC, which resulted in the publication of the Penumbra Report. This landmark report led to the subsequent creation of a permanent GDC national secretariat, in Ottawa.

In 1991 he was invited to co-chair Icograda Montreal ’91, the international design conference sponsored by the International Association of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda). For several months prior to the conference he attended weekly planning sessions in Montreal, and at the conference he delivered an opening address to over 2,000 participants from around the world, including a delegation from Taiwan. He was subsequently invited to represent Canadian graphic design in that country, where he participated in the Taipei International Design Interaction (TAIDI)—where his work won ‘Best of Show.’ In his capacity as GDC President he signed a letter of agreement with the China External Trade Association (CETRA), paving the way for closer ties between the Taiwanese and Canadian design communities.

Michael supported Albert Ng in his herculean efforts to gain accreditation status for Ontario’s graphic designers, and since the successful outcome of that process, in 1996, he has worked to consolidate the stature and integrity of Canada’s newest design organization, the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD Ontario). At George Brown he has implemented a policy of complimentary student memberships for graphic design students (over 800), and as a member of the Examination Board of the association, Michael has helped set new standards for the practice of graphic design and graphic design education in the province.

He writes regularly on design issues for national periodicals such as Azure magazine, and he wrote a section of the new RGD Ontario Graphic Design Handbook, published in 2001.

In 1994 Michael Maynard was named a Fellow of the GDC, in recognition of his significant contributions to Canadian graphic design. He is married, with four children, and when he can find the time he enjoys backcountry camping, canoeing, and hiking.